Friday, October 26, 2018

Your Daily Scare: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

"Don't touch that. You don't know where it's been." 

Sure, it occasionally veers to the silly side, what with the giant zucchini-like pods, the outrageous '70s fashions and the deadpan humor. But Philip Kaufman's remake of Don Siegel's original is still a blast, a shot of paranoid horror goosed by a game cast.

Donald Sutherland plays a diligent public health inspector in San Francisco. Along with co-worker/obvious love interest Brooke Adams, he begins to suspect pod-grown replicas are replacing local people, including those he knows and cares about. He and Adams enlist the help of several friends, including always-welcome Veronica Cartwright; live-wire Jeff Goldblum; and, most fun of all, a scenery-chomping Leonard Nimoy as an unctuous celebrity psychiatrist.

By most accounts, Siegel's original is more haunting, honing in on what it would be like as loved ones are replaced by emotionless aliens. Kaufman's film, for the most part, is moving too fast to register, although it finds some pathos in the chemistry between Sutherland and Adams. But there's still plenty of fun to be had here; the tension is especially acute in the middle section, when the leads realize they're surrounded by hostile creatures. There are also a couple of truly memorable horror images, one of which is so audacious I laughed out loud when I saw it. It's tremendous, tense fun.

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